The payroll protection program (PPP), administered by the Small Business Association with support from the U.S. Treasury, is a key part of the CARES Act signed into law in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shut down of many businesses across the United States. PPP was designed to help struggling businesses maintain their workforce at least on a short-term basis. Lenders across the country managed the business PPP applications, processed the loans, and disbursed the funds. In return, the lenders can collect processing fees from the SBA once the loans are fully disbursed. On the surface, PPP is a win/win for the lenders who can help their existing and new clients, as well as, receive processing fee reimbursement.
The Heavy Burden
Unfortunately, few considered the reporting requirement burden placed on the lenders! Not only do lenders have to report on each loan when it is fully disbursed in order to collect on their processing fees, but they are also required to report monthly on each loan until the loan has been paid in full! What if you made hundreds or thousands of these loans?
The guidance from the SBA specifically states the following:
Lenders must provide monthly 1502 reports that include loan status information for their PPP loans regardless of whether the borrower made a payment in the current month. (All PPP loans are deferred for 6 months from disbursement.) Lenders must continue reporting on a loan until the Lender notifies SBA that the loan has been paid in full.*
A Complicated Process
The typical process to handle the loan data and do the required reporting involves many steps and numerous people across the organization including IT, Finance, and Regulatory Reporting at the very least. Within a typical lender, the process looks something like the following:
The questions to every lender are: How are you going to get this reporting done accurately and on time every month until all of the loans are paid off and closed? Will you need to reallocate significant hours from internal resources or hire full-time resources to do this reporting? What will that cost? How do you avoid tying up significant personnel hours to complete this monthly reporting burden?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to the Rescue
One solution to minimize the impact is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). With RPA, any process that can mapped, can be automated. The use of “bots” to do repetitive, manually intensive work is not necessarily new, but it is starting to be recognized as a solution within the business world. RPA is ideally suited to address challenges just like those in the PPP reporting requirements.
A sample PPP reporting process using bots:
Time and Cost Savings
An RPA solution can be designed and implemented in as little as three weeks and at a fraction of the cost to do this process manually. Using an automation tool, the bots can be configured, tested, and running effectively in short order.
Utilizing RPA is also a cost savings. Based on conservative estimates from SBA data, the Top 100 PPP lenders processed on average 136 loans. We estimated the following range of cost for manual PPP reporting:
With an average annual personnel cost of $78,000, compare that to an estimated $10,000 RPA investment, which is over 85% cost savings. That’s huge!
While RPA could be used to solve this single business challenge, our experience tells us that companies often redeploy the bots to solve other repetitive and time-consuming tasks found within their organizations, thus significantly increasing the overall ROI of the investment.
By investing a small amount (software and set up), you can achieve significant gains in productivity, avoid unnecessary cost, and improve the accuracy and timing of required SBA reporting. If you need a cost-effective solution to meet the PPP reporting challenges, contact eCapital Advisors for a free consultation and demo.
*SBA Procedural Notice, effective 5/21/2020.